Welcome to the Free Online Scholarship (FOS) NewsletterMay 15, 2002
Protecting the information commons
Last Friday I spoke at the "Protecting the Information Commons" conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Public Knowledge and the New America Foundation. This was an advocacy conference. The mission is to reclaim the public domain from the aggressive expansion of intellectual property law, and to give voice to the public interest to balance or offset the private interests that have the ear of Congress. I spoke on the Budapest Open Access Initiative and represented the information commons that consists of open access to scientific and scholarly journal literature. It was a joy to make contact with so many smart, energetic people who are pulling in the same direction and willing to lend each other a hand. FOS is just one front in a wider campaign, and it was exciting to talk with activists working on the other fronts. Those working on information commons threatened by patents, or by the privatization of infrastructure, were as interested in the FOS issues and successes as I was in theirs.
Seth Shulman, who happened to speak at this conference, wrote last November that intellectual property critics of many different kinds are being brought together in the same way in which environmental movement brought together activists on many separate but related issues.
That's how this meeting felt. Separate strands of public-interest activism with overlapping issues are discovering their common ground, their need for strength in numbers, and their need for pooled strategies and wisdom. This is a very positive development.
I can't summarize the papers here. But here are two tidbits of special interest to FOSN readers.
* Rep. Rick Boucher told us that the bill he will introduce in a few weeks, if passed, will restore fair-use rights denied by the DMCA, and legalize circumvention except when there is an intent to infringe. A bill he may introduce after that would prevent contracts (including software, journal, and database licenses) from giving copyright owners more protection than federal copyright law already gives them. He also assured us that the CBDTPA will not pass.
* Richard Stallman told me that he sees no good reason to use the GPL or copyleft for scientific journal articles (see FOSN for 2/6/02). GLP makes more sense for software manuals or textbooks, where new developments create a need to modify the original text. But articles that report the result of an experiment, or the observations of a scientist, should not be modified.
"Protecting the Information Commons: Asserting the Public Interest in Copyright Law and Digital Infrastructure"
Scott Burnell's UPI story about the conference
Budapest Open Access Initiatve
Why FOS progress has been slow
The information commons conference made me think, again, about why progress in the FOS movement has been slow. Progress in achieving FOS has been accelerating, especially in the past two years. But compared to the rate permitted by our opportunities, progress has been slow. All the means to this end are within the control of scientists and scholars themselves and don't depend on legislatures or markets. We needn't wait for anyone to become enlightened except ourselves. So what is slowing us down?
Scientists and scholars voluntarily submit their work to journals that do not pay royalties. They can self-archive their preprints and some form of their postprints without copyright problems. If they submit their work to an open-access journal, then they can publish in a peer-reviewed journal, face no copyright problems, and still get open access to their work. So here are authors who consent to dispense with payment, who face no economic loss (and much intangible gain) for allowing the free distribution and copying of their work, and who face no copyright barriers in authorizing open access. Yet open access to science and scholarship is expanding much more slowly than it could. The other movements represented at the conference face more vexing problems than we do: either flat-out copyright (or patent) barriers, or lack of consent from the rightsholders, or both. So if our case is the easy case, why is it so hard?
Stevan Harnad calls this question the *big koan*. Here's a whack at an answer. There is no single cause of scholarly sluggishness on FOS, but here are some of the factors that certainly play a role.
(1) Unlike librarians, scholars tend not to understand the serials pricing crisis. They tend not to understand the licensing and copyright (contractual and statutory) problems that are laid on top of exorbitant prices to make library access to journals so difficult. They tend not to understand the economics and technology of journal publishing. I don't blame them much. I had to take a large detour from my own research interests to gain the degree of understanding I have now. Scholars are focused on the fascinating first-order problems that attracted them into their disciplines (FOSN for 4/8/02), and their talent is to concentrate. But while their focus on other problems is understandable, they aggravate this problem by ignoring it. These are smart people, yet they still tend to say, "Don't fix what isn't broken," rather than "Which solution is best?"
Scholars tend to notice that there are access problems to journal literature when their own library doesn't carry a journal they need, or when nearby libraries will not send a copy by inter-library loan because they don't have permission to copy the electronic edition which has replaced their print edition. But when scholars run into access barriers, they are slow to realize that these are systemic, not the isolated misfortunes of researchers with abstruse topics.
There are many good introductions to the dimensions and details of the problem. Here's one of the best.
(2) There are several myths and misunderstandings about FOS. The three most common and inimical are that FOS bypasses peer review, that it costs money that cannot be found, and that it violates copyright. If true, these myths would make FOS undesirable, impractical, and illegal. But all three are false, as you know if you've been following this movement for any length of time. If you are new to the issues and haven't already read their full refutation, here are two sources.http://www.arl.org/newsltr/220/scholar.html (scroll to the middle)http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/boaifaq.htm (especially the section on open access)
(3) Scholars want to publish in prestigious journals, most of which are still priced and printed. Open-access journals can be as prestigious as any (see e.g. BMJ). But most open-access journals are new and it takes time for new journals to gather prestige, even if their quality is impeccable from the start. The solution is not to talk authors out of their preference for prestige, but to create more open-access journals, staff them with first-rate editors, and give them time.
(4) Scholars have a conflict of interest in their roles as authors and as readers. As authors, they want prestigious journals which for the time being are mostly priced. But as readers they want free online access to full-text articles. In this conflict, authors prevail over readers because authors decide where to submit their articles. For a growing number of authors who realize that open-access journals give them a much wider audience and give their research much greater impact, these benefits outweigh prestige. But there are still many who don't realize that their favorite priced, printed, and prestigious journals have a smaller audience than open-access journals. When this sinks in, and especially when the prestige of open-access journals grows to match their quality, then the conflict will disappear and it will be clear that both authors and readers will benefit from open access. But this will take time.
(5) Insofar as authors are forced by career pressures to choose a priced, printed journal over an open-access journal, then the academic reward system is also a part of the problem. Hiring and tenure committees that don't give due weight to free online peer-reviewed journals, regardless of their quality, make it too risky for untenured scholars to become part of the solution. Ironically, junior faculty who face these pressures are the most clued-in and most eager to realize the full potential of the internet.
(6) It is still much more the rule than the exception for journals to demand that authors transfer their copyright. But giving a journal the copyright to an article gives it the authority to decide whether access to the article will be closed or open. Since most journals are priced, most will limit access to paying customers. Priced journals wouldn't be access-barriers if they didn't have the authority from copyright to decide whether to permit open access.
(7) The transition to open access faces certain obstacles. Priced journals want their revenue, either as profit or to minimize their losses. Open-access journals must persuade a variety of institutions (universities, libraries, foundations, governments) to accept a novel funding model. Even if paying for dissemination costs much less than paying for access, the novelty is a ground for hesitation and the new expense may fall where no expense fell before. I've argued that the transition to an open-access funding model may even create a prisoner's dilemma (FOSN for 1/1/02).
(8) There are three vicious circles here that affect journal funding, author incentives, and author opportunities. The first is the prisoner's dilemma in the transition from the old funding model to the new. By paying for the dissemination of articles rather than access to them, universities will realize significant savings. But they may not be able to afford dissemination fees until they can stop paying access fees, and they can't stop paying access fees until the dissemination fee business model has generally prevailed. The second vicious circle is that prestige is an important incentive for authors to submit their articles to certain journals, but new open-access journals can only gain prestige if they can give authors an incentive to submit their articles. The third vicious circle is simply that progress has been slow. This means that there are still comparatively few open-access journals where authors can submit their work, and there are still comparatively few institutional eprint archives offering open access to the research output of their faculty.
Finally, I'd like to emphasize that these are explanations for the slow rate of change, not grounds for pessimism. Explaining why the chicken is on this side of the road doesn't mean that it can't walk to the other side. There are many grounds for optimism; just look at the back issues of this newsletter.
* Postscript. The beauty of open access makes it obvious, and its obviousness makes it beautiful. Whichever way one approaches it, one will be puzzled why it hasn't spread like fire. It's even more puzzling because open access to scientific and scholarly journal articles is the low-hanging fruit of the larger open-access movement. It's a much easier case than open access to other kinds of digital content, such as software, music, film, or non-academic literature, because scientists and scholars willingly relinquish payment in order to publish their research, advance their careers, and contribute to knowledge.
There are roughly two kinds of higher-hanging fruit: (1) open access through copyright reform, and (2) open access through the consent of authors who are not yet consenting. If we can we roll back recent copyright extensions, that would move many copyrighted works into the public domain. If we can restore the first-sale doctrine, then libraries may purchase digital content and not just license it, and may then provide open access to the copies they purchase. If open-access to novels really provides a net boost to the sales of their print editions (FOSN for 4/22/02), or if open access to digital music gives a net boost to the sales of the same music on priced CD's (FOSN for 5/6/02), then more novelists and musicians may be persuaded to consent to open access.
We know why these two kinds of open access are distant prospects: copyright reform is hard, and persuading profit-seeking creators to consent to open-access is hard. But our case is the low-hanging fruit. Even if it's not easy to pick, it's easier. Right? So why hasn't progress been faster?
What's your answer to the big koan? If my answer is incomplete, what am I leaving out?
FOS discussion forum(Anyone may read; only subscribers may post; subscription is free.)
* I'm still investigating a handful of possible new hosts for the FOS Newsletter and discussion forum. Please forgive any ads that Topica may insert into the newsletter before I finish picking a new host and making the move.
* SPARC has entered a partnership with BioMed Central (BMC), in which it will help BMC ensure long-term free online access to its line of 50 journals in biomedicine. BMC is committed to open access to all its journals now and in the future, regardless of the future circumstances or ownership of BMC itself. In its press release, SPARC praised BMC for its commitment to open access to scientific research, its bold business model, and its concern for sustainability.
* The National Institutes of Health has become an institutional member of BMC. This is the latest in a series of important scientific institutions which have endorsed BMC's business model, which provides open access for readers and asks authors or their sponsors to bear the costs.
* Perseus is now an OAI service provider. Perseus is a free online archive of digital texts from Ancient Greece and Rome, and more recently from other cultures and periods.
* The Institute of Physics Publishing (IOPP) is digitizing its entire archive, which dates back to 1874. During 2002, the archive will be available on the net without charge, but starting in 2003 users will have to pay a small access fee. For this purpose, the "archive" consists of issues more than 10 years old. Putting these texts online will take place in three phases, the first of which has now been completed.
The IOP archive
* All 80,000 objects in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology have been digitized and put on the internet for all to view free of charge. The physical objects are housed in a small space in the Science Library of University College London.(Thanks to Managing Information Newsletter.)
* The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has launched Scholars Portal, a suite of tools giving library patrons a single interface to the electronic resources on the web and in the user's library.
Scholars Portal is based in part on ARL's survey on how libraries use portal software. Here's a brief summary of the survey results. ARL will publish the full results later this year.
* The Open Archives Initiative (OAI) has released the beta of version 2.0 of its protocol for metadata harvesting. It is now available for downloading. The OAI metadata harvesting protocol is the standard for interoperable FOS archives.
* FAIR has announced its winning applicants (see FOSN for 1/23/02). FAIR is JISC's Focus on Access to Institutional Resources, a program to support access to institutional content in higher education. FAIR will fund 14 projects.
X4L has also announced its winning applicants (see FOSN for 1/23/02). X4L is a JISC program to develop and repurpose digital content for teaching and learning at the university level. X4L will fund 22 projects.
* The Research Libraries Group (RLG) has released a new version Eureka, which uses OpenURL to provide context-sensitive links to materials held by the user's library. Eureka uses RLG databases and OpenURL to digital resources licensed by a client libraries.
* In a speech last Friday, Thomas Oppermann, science minister of Lower Saxony, condemned large scientific journal publishers for price gouging that harms university libraries and the taxpayers who support them. Oppermann also argued that their monopolistic prices, which can rise by 30% per year, constitute a serious danger for science ("ernsthaften Gefahr für die Wissenschaft"). He has asked Germany's federal cartel office (Bundeskartellamt) to investigate them for violating Germany's anti-trust laws. (PS: Does anyone know of other nations that have noticed the harm to taxpayers and who are acting to protect them in this way?)
* The Creative Commons will launch tomorrow. Currently the web site carries only an announcement, but check it again soon. The Creative Commons is a Lawrence Lessig initiative that will draft and print out custom licenses for authors, musicians, and other content creators who want to provide free online access to their works and yet retain enforceable rights e.g. to block the publication of mangled, misattributed, or commercial versions (see FOSN for 2/14/02). Authors will indicate the rights they wish to retain by checking boxes on a web from. Software at the site will then assemble a licensing agreement that assigns the remaining rights to the public domain. The creators will mark their online work with an icon that links back to the licensing agreement, which users may read in either a "lay" or a legalistic version. The project will also act as a conservancy for the content it licenses.
The Creative Commons
Amy Harmon story in the _New York Times_
New on the net
* NASA has put online the proceedings of the Workshop on Experimental OAI-Based Digital Library Systems (Darmstadt, September 8, 2001).
* The National Centre for Science Information and the Indian Institute of Science have put online the proceedings of their workshop on Developing Digital Libraries using Open Source Software (April 15-20, Bangalore). The workshop focused on two open source packages, Eprints and Greenstone.
* The Library Association Copyright Alliance has put online the results of its February conference on how UK law regulates copying for the purposes of commercial research.
* South Bank University (SBU) has put online the powerpoints and a summary of the proceedings of its workshop, Content Management for Information Professionals (April 11, SBU).
* The Resource Discovery Network (RDN) conducted a user survey from September 2001 to February 2002. The main question was how users evaluated its quality. RDN has now posted the results online.
* PADI (Preserving Access to Digital Information) has put online a large, annotated bibliography on long-term digital preservation.
* The Digital Preservation Coalition and the National Library of Australia have launched a free online newsletter, "What's New in Digital Preservation?"
Share your thoughts
* The EC's Interactive Electronic Publishing sector is calling for scholars interested in contributing to a study, "Future of Electronic Publishing Towards 2010". The deadline for tenders is June 17.
* The ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology is calling for papers for a peer-reviewed anthology on digital libraries for K-12 schools.
* JISC is looking for scholars and librarians willing to fill out a survey on possible licenses with Oxford Reference Online and XReferPlus. Replies are due by May 17.
Oxford Reference Online
In other publications
* The March-June issue of _eCulture_ is now online. It contains an article by Andrea Mulrenin on "Technology for Tomorrow's Digital Cultural Heritage" and news on many IST cultural heritage programs.
* In the May 14 _Business Week_, Stephen Wildstrom reports on the decline of fair-use rights and the first-sale doctrine. "Hollywood has been on a remarkable legislative and legal winning streak....Copyright law has always tried to strike a delicate balance between the rights of content creators to be compensated for their work and the rights of consumers to use what they have paid for. But the development of digital media and Big Media's attempt to completely control it have destroyed the delicate equilibrium that is copyright law."(Thanks to LIS News.)
* In the May 13 _Wall Street Journal_ Phyllis Plitch profiles Pamela Samuelson, a crusader for copyright reforms that will support an information commons and the public domain.(WSJ is normally closed to non-subscribers, like me, but this article is open.)
* In the May issue of _Library Management & Information Services_, G.E. Gorman asks when digital collections are worth the cost. He/she lists four economic advantages of digital collections (many points of access to one resource, flexibility, low production costs, 24/7 availability), and four economic disadvantages (piracy, difficulty of setting fair prices, licenses that give access without ownership, and preservation).
* In the May issue of _Business 2.0, Matthew Maier creates an annotated timeline of 20th century technologies that conflicted with contemporaneous copyright law. In each case, copyright law was revised or reinterpreted to allow new and better technologies to emerge.
* In the April 29 _Times Online_, Jim McCue describes the problem of archiving the internet: its large size, its continuous change and growth, the ephemeral nature of much of its content, and (as always) copyright. The story is based on an interview with Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library. With the help of IBM, The British Library is starting an experiment to archive British content.(Thanks to Shelflife.)
* In the April _NordInfo_, Bernard Smith analyzes "EU policies for the Knowledge Society". Smith is the head of the Cultural Heritage Applications unit of the EU Directorate General Information Society.
* Several contributions to the _Conference on Computers, Freedom and Privacy_ (April 16-19, San Francisco) are of interest to FOSN readers
Lance Hoffman, "Motivations Behind a Role Plan at CFP: Repeated Assaults on the Constitution by Extremist Property Rights Advocates" (a critique of the DMCA)
Drew Clark, "How Copyright Became Controversial" (answer, the DMCA)
Beth Givens, "Public Records on the Internet: The Privacy Dilemma" (on the problem of excessive accessibility)
* Elizabeth Shaw has updated her "List of Resources and Bibliography for Digitizing Research Collections for Access".(Thanks to New Horizons in Scholarly Communication.)
* RLG and OCLC have released their report on long-term access and preservation of the digital content of research organizations, "Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities".
Following up (new developments in continuing stories)
To see past coverage of these stories in FOSN, use the search engine at the FOSN archive.
* More on the CBDTPA
The May 10 issue of EFF's _EFFector_ has an excellent background piece on the industry negotiations that lead to the CBDTPA and the recent decision by Phillips to break ranks and oppose it.
* More on the Elcomsoft/Sklyrarov case
Judge Ronald Whyte has ruled against Elcomsoft's constitutional arguments for dismissing the charges against it. Whyte held that source code is protected speech, but that the DMCA did not regulate it in a way that violates the First Amendment. Moreover, the DMCA is not unconstitutionally vague e.g. for failing to make clear which circumvention devices are lawful and which are unlawful. The reason is that it clearly bans them all. But doesn't that undermine fair-use rights? Whyte's deeply confused and confusing answer: "Fair use of a copyrighted work continues to be permitted, as does circumventing use restrictions for the purpose of engaging in a fair use, even though engaging in certain fair uses of digital works may be made more difficult if tools to circumvent use restrictions cannot be readily [i.e. legally] obtained." By eliminating these constitutional arguments, Whyte made Elcomsoft's case turn only on the statute and the facts. He also created another precedent to support the DMCA against future constitutional challenges. The trial date will be set on May 20.
Full text of Whyte's ruling.
* More on cross-border censorship (whether French hate-speech law applies to US-based Yahoo)
The CDT and ACLU have filed an amicus brief on behalf of Yahoo in its appeal before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.(Thanks to Politech.)
Steven Bonisteel reviews the ACLU's role in two cyber-censorship cases, one the France-Yahoo case.
* More on GeekPAC
Doc Searls describes the origin of GeekPAC and restates the need for it.
* More on P2P censorship-bypassing technology
John Borland interviews Ian Clarke, developer of Freenet, for _News.com_. Clarke replies to objections that his software could be useful to terrorists and argues that it is needed more than ever since September 11. "[T]he only way that terrorists could really use [Freenet] would be to share information with the general public....The goal of Freenet is to provide a forum for free distribution of information."
* More on the USA PATRIOT Act
_Human Rights_, a journal published by The American Bar Association, devotes its current issue to the PATRIOT Act.(Thanks to Politech.)
* More on the plan to restrict dissemination of unclassified basic research funded by the Pentagon
The Defense Department is withdrawing the plan. It is responding to protests from scientists both inside and outside the government.(The second story is accessible only to CHE subscribers.)
* More on the new EU Copyright Directive
The new directive further limits fair-use rights, e.g. forcing the disabled to pay an extra fee to make handicap-accessible versions of digital content. The Library Association Copyright Alliance is fighting for amendments that would restore fair-use rights.(Thanks to C-Fit.)
* More on the problem of excessive accessibility
The Judicial Conference of the United States has approved an experimental plan for 11 federal courts to provide free online access to criminal records. As recently as last September the same group refused to take this step on the ground that it would create excessive accessibility to private information, even though by law the information must be made public.
* More on the Digital Promise Project and the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust
Senator Chris Dodd is submitting a bill to the Senate to create the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust (DoIt). DoIt will be financed by the auction of radio spectrum, and administered by the NSF. It is expected to be many billions of dollars. The trust will support free online digital content in the arts, sciences, and education. Dodd's bill has bipartisan support in the Senate. Rep. Edward Markey is introducing a corresponding bill in the House. In March, members of both houses asked the National Science Board (NSB) to undertake an expedited study in preparation for the upcoming hearings on the two bills. The study will be delivered to Congress on June 1.
Catching up (old news I should have discovered earlier)
* eMedicine.com is a very large online collection of free and priced medical books, journal articles, and software tools. It is supported by advertising and fees for a subset of its content and services.
* The Museum of Online Museums is a portal to free online museum exhibitions, from the Smithsonian and Art Institute of Chicago to the Museum of Air Sickness Bags and the Collection of Japanese Manhole Covers.(Thanks to the Scout Report.)
If you plan to attend one of the following conferences, please share your observations with us through our discussion forum. (Conferences marked by two asterisks are new since the last issue.)
* Copyright for Beginners [among librarians and information professionals]London, May 15
* A Day in the Life of an [Electronic] Journal PublisherChichester, May 16
* Shaping the Network Society: Patterns for Participation, Action and ChangeSeattle, May 16-19
* National Conference for Digital Government ResearchLos Angeles, May 19-22
* Libraries in the Digital Age 2002Dubrovnik, May 21-26
* Taking the Plunge: Moving from Print to Electronic JournalsLondon, May 22
* Online Submission and Peer Review. Sponsored by the Journals Committee of the Professional & Scholarly Publishing Division of the AAP.New York, May 22
* CAiSE '02. Advanced Information Systems EngineeringToronto, May 27-31
* Workshop on Personalization Techniques in Electronic Publishing on the Web: Trends and PerspectivesMalaga, Spain, May 28
** Applications of Metadata. Sponsored by the Electronic Publishing Specialist Group of the British Computer Society.London, May 29
* Society for Scholarly Publishing (AAP)Boston, May 29-31
* Fair Use SeminarPortland, Oregon, May 30
* Off the Wall and Online: Providing Web Access to Cultural CollectionsLexington, Massachusetts, May 30-31
* Multimedia Content and Tools: Towards Information and Knowledge SystemsLondon, May 30-31
* Advancing Knowledge: Expanding Horizons for Information ScienceToronto, May 30 - June 1
* Electronic Theses and Dissertations 2002Provo, Utah, May 30 - June 1
* International Association of Technological University Libraries Annual Conference: Partnerships, Consortia, and 21st Century Library ScienceKansas City, June 2-6
* Digital Behavior: European Forum on Digital Content Creation, Management, and DistributionCologne, June 4-8
* DELOS Workshop on Evaluation of Digital Libraries: Testbeds, Measurements, and MetricsBudapest, June 6-7
* Social Implicatoins of Information and Communication TechnologyRaleigh, North Carolina, June 6-8
* Electronic Resources and the Social Role of Libraries in the FutureSudak, Ukraine, June 8-16
* First International Semantic Web ConferenceSardinia, June 9-12
* Frontiers of Ownership in the Digital Economy: Information Patents, Database Protection and the Politics of KnowledgeParis, June 10-11
* IASSIST 2002: Accelerating Access, Collaboration, and DisseminationJune 10-15
* The Commons in an Age of Globalisation. Ninth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common PropertyVictoria Falls, Zimbabwe, June 17-21
* Informing Science and IT EducationCork, June 19-21
* 8th International Conference of European University Information SystemsPorto, June 19-22
* Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers: Exploiting the Online Environment for Maximum AdvantageBirmingham, June 20-21
* Transforming Serials: The Revolution ContinuesWilliamsburg, Virginia, June 20-23
** Delivering Content to Universities and Colleges: The Challenges of the New Information Environment. Sponsored by JISC, PA, and ALPSP.London, June 21
* Choices and Strategies for Preservation of the Collective MemoryBolzano, Italy, June 25-29
* CIG Seminar: REVEALed: The Truth Behind the National Database of Resources in Accessible FormatsLondon, June 26
* 4th International JISC/CNI ConferenceEdinburgh, June 26-27
* Digitisation Summer School for Cultural Heritage ProfessionalsGlasgow, June 30 - July 5
The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter is supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.
This is the Free Online Scholarship Newsletter (ISSN 1535-7848).
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Copyright (c) 2002, Peter Suber